UNWTO Representative Speaks at the World Leisure Congress
Thank you very much Jerol. Mr. Mayor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to bring to this opening ceremony in this beautiful city, the greetings and support of UNWTO, the United Nation's specializedagency committed to tourism, travel and the millennium development goals and toshare with you, our perspective on tourism's positive role in our common global future, driven by evolving dynamic social, ethical and sustainable behavior. This world exposition in congress offers particularly timely opportunity to show the emerging link between leisure andresponsible enjoyment, which is embodied in UNWTO's global code of ethnicaltourism. That is leisure which leaves a positive impact on visitors, on hostcommunities and on the ecosystem it impacts.
And there are 3 reasons for this.
The first is because the world is increasingly recognizing the tourism business andleisure travel is making a major contribution to socio-economic improvementgenerally and to the war on poverty specifically. It is the biggest industry inthe world. It is more than 30% of global services trade. It is growing fasterthan GDP and it will double its impact over the next decade and a half despitethe obvious challenges of man-made and natural disasters, despite theincreasing price of fuel, despite increasing security demands and despitemassive infrastructure and capital needs. Responsibly and sustainably managed,tourism can significantly improve the lives of billions of people and leisureis the largest fastest growing segment of this booming market. Holiday tourism,ecotourism, adventure tourism, sports and recreational tourism, health andreligious tourism, all of this is indicative of a changing global life stylewith easier access, freer time and more disposable income. And Mr. Mayor, you arevery wise to plan your future around this dynamic industry.
The second reason is because China so embodies the spirit, the potential and therealization of the tourism paradigm. In less than two decades, under the balanced drive of the socialist market economy, China has become the forth largest tourism export marketin the world and its own track to become the largest market in the next twodecades and with its rapidly expanding middle class, this is destined to becomethe largest two-way market in the world. Leisure will be the key component, leisure to explore the incredible 5000-year-old traditions, leisure to enjoy the wide ranges of recreations and sports which will be focused by the Beijing Olympics, leisure to experience the myriad of cultures in China, leisure totaste the diverse culinary designs, leisure to experience the incredible scenic and natural beauty. Significantly these leisure experiences are progressively opening to a massive domesticmarket as the mayor observed as well as to a booming international one. In thisway, China can use tourism to respond to its own poverty imperatives as well ashelp other states to develop their tourism exports to response of this. Again allagainst the backdrop of the need for responsible and sustainable consumptionand production practices.
And the third and final reason that it is particularly important that you open thiscongress on this day. It is the UN system that is launching a global efforttoday to acknowledge the importance of the millennium development goals and thewar on poverty. And the UN is seeking to create a world record attempt asstanding up for these goals with minisive silence all over the world the next twodays this is happening. UN agencies and the people with whom they interact areobserving this moment in the show of solidarity fall and with the poorest ofthis planet and in the sign of long term commitment to systematically eradicatepoverty, starting with the millennium development goals of halving 1990 realpoverty levels by 2050. There is no other industry that can do more thantourism to directly deliver export income to provide wages, to create jobs and to attract investments, particularlywhere it engages local partners, links with information technology andcommunity-based education and teaches quality service with sustainabledelivery.
Mr.Mayor, ladies and gentlemen. In recognition of this initiative by the UnitedNations and conjunction with the opening of this expo, I'd like to appeal toyou in finishing my remarks tonight to stand with me in one minute of silencein honor of the millennium development goals and to make this congress animportant part of this global initiative, and I would ask you if you will be sokind as to do so.